• Says 2023 polls should be open to competent and credible candidates
Yesterday, following an emergency meeting of northern opinion leaders at Arewa House, the North said it would not agree to the zoning of the 2023 presidency in any part of the country.
Opinion leaders including the heads of the Northern Elders Forum (NEF), Professor Ango Abdullahi, Hakeem Baba-Ahmed; former ministers, lawmakers, religious leaders, politicians and other prominent figures from the region, agreed during the meeting that the presidential elections of 2023 should be open to credible and competent candidates.
In a statement released and signed by Professor Doknan Decent Danjuma Shenni, they urged the federal government not to violate “the fundamental rights of all political parties to field candidates of their choice, and the right of voters to freely exercise choices about who directs them”. cannot be compromised.
“Northerners have the equal right to aspire to all office, but must prioritize competence, demonstration of personal integrity and commitment to the rule of law above all other considerations.
“Northerners should ignore provocative statements from southern groups, who seem to believe that threats and hate campaigns are the hallmark or defining elements of the elections. North should vote for the best chef.
“We, opinion leaders in the North, have also agreed that the current state of insecurity in the North is unprecedented and unacceptable.”
The group advised President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration to review and reprioritize security and poverty reduction spending.
They further stated, “The fundamental rights of all political parties to field candidates of their choice and the right of voters to freely exercise choice over who leads them cannot be compromised. “Northerners have an equal right to aspire to all office, but must prioritize competence, evidence of personal integrity and commitment to the rule of law above all other considerations.”
The meeting also noted “the desperate condition of economic existence of most northerners poses additional threats to security and the democratic process,” stressing, “It recommends that leaders avoid pushing the population into a deeper poverty and desperation with tough economic policies and lack of empathy.”
“Government at all levels should consider some form of structured social welfare system to reduce poverty among the population.”
Northern leaders also advised the Federal Government to postpone the planned 2022 national census given the large number of displaced Nigerians and the proximity of the census to the 2023 elections,
They urged national and state assemblies to prioritize the constitutional amendments being processed and advised President Muhammadu Buhari to accentuate the proposed amendments to the electoral law as this would improve the quality of the elections.
The group tasked key groups in the North to engage Southerners to improve understanding, reduce tensions and help create an atmosphere that would enable all Nigerians to live in peace with one another.